AMD shows off Ryzen-ready chipsets and motherboards at CES

Update, 16:55 CST: we have an exclusive look at a few Gigabyte AM4-based mobos.

Everybody's excited about AMD's upcoming CPUs based on the Ryzen core, but a CPU on its own doesn't get you very far. Fortunately, AMD announced last night that it has all of the biggest names in motherboards working feverishly to provide boards for the new chips. That list includes Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, ASRock, and Biostar. AMD will be showing a total of 16 ready-to-go motherboards from these companies at CES.

Enthusiasts will be bolting compatible cooling hardware from "15 top cooler manufacturers" to those motherboards, including such big names like Noctua, Corsair, and EKWB. Alternatively, if you don't want to build your own Ryzen-based machine, AMD says it has seventeen boutique PC shops on board to offer the new CPUs. That list features big names like CyberPowerPC, Maingear, Mindfactory, OriginPC, and IBuyPower, among many others. AMD also said it expects tier-one OEMs—companies like HP, Dell, and Lenovo—to climb on board in the first half of 2017.

Along with this news, AMD presented some new details about the chipsets going into these socket-AM4 motherboards. We already heard about (and have seen motherboards with) the A320 and B350 chipsets, but in AMD previously described those chips as "essential" and "mainstream" options, leaving the "enthusiast" segment open. Now, the company has revealed that the chipset filling that space will be called the X370. Besides the name, the company also revealed some pretty specific details about the capabilities of that new chipset:

You can combine those numbers with these detailed specs on the Ryzen chips themselves:

By our math, it looks like pairing an X370 chipset with a Ryzen CPU nets you six SATA ports, 32 lanes of PCIe connectivity, two USB 3.1 ports, and ten USB 3.0 ports. That's certainly not bad, but it puts the AM4 platform much closer to Intel's regular desktop machines than the Broadwell-E setups that come to mind when we talk about 8-core processors.

Perhaps the most interesting news to come out of last night's announcement, at least for enthusiasts and overclockers, is that all Ryzen CPUs will be unlocked for overclocking. This isn't really a surprise to anyone who is familiar with the history of recent AMD CPUs, but it's nice to have confirmation on that point. Taking advantage of that feature will require a motherboard with an X370, B350, or X300 chipset.

AMD says it expects Ryzen processors, motherboards, cooling hardware, and systems to be available this quarter, so we don't have much longer to wait.

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